Lower 9 residents welcome push for wider vaccine distribution

Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 3:15 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Residents of the lower ninth ward are among those calling for more widespread access to vaccinations as the state deals with a huge backlog of delivered doses.

So far only 50,000 doses have been administered, but the state has received more than four times that amount.

The CVS pharmacy in the lower 9 opened with much fanfare here on North Claiborne 4 years ago but shut down in June, forcing lower 9 residents to go more than 5 miles to get prescriptions or the newly available coronavirus vaccine.

“People don’t have transportation it’s going to be hard for them to get out unless they get a ride with someone,” said longtime resident Ida Justin.

The coronavirus vaccine shot is now being given out at more than 100 pharmacies across Louisiana, And early recipients, over the age of 70, are grateful.

But lower ninth ward residents are among those feeling left out.

“We have to either go to St. Bernard Parish on Paris Road to CVS or Walgreens, it’s quite a distance,” said Justin.

The New Orleans City Council is now looking into ways to expand distribution, as the state has so far only been able to give out, 49,000 vaccines out of more than 230,000 it has received from vaccine manufacturers, as of Tuesday morning.

“While it’s encouraging that pharmacies are starting we know this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said New Orleans Health Director Jennifer Avegno, M.D.

“It’s important that the vaccine not simply be in hospitals or health clinics, it needs to be community-based as well libraries, schools, community centers, close to the people,” said Urban League president and former mayor Marc Morial, on a visit to New Orleans this week.

So far that is not the case in the lower nine where 74-year-old Ida Justin is ready.

“I would love to see it closer, within walking distance,” said Justin.

She says coronavirus has robbed her of several friends and relatives, and she and her neighbors are eager to be vaccinated, hopefully closer to home.

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